EDMONTON – Three different Golden Bears netted double-digit kills as the No.5 University of Alberta Golden Bears knocked off the No.10 University of Calgary Dinos in four sets (26-24, 21-25, 25-17, 25-15), Friday night at Saville Community Sports Centre.
Sophomore outside hitters Braedon Friesen and Jordan Canham tallied 15 and 14 kills, respectively, while combining for four aces, two solo blocks, and two block assists. Third-year outside hitter Jackson Kennedy completed the ten-plus trio with 12 kills, fourth-year setter Max Elgert recording 45 assists. Elgert also notched three aces to tie for the third-highest season total in team history (34), equaling Taryq Sani’s work in the 2018-19 season.
Senior outside hitter Mac McNicol led the visitors with 14 kills and four aces, third-year setter Tomas Sorra adding 27 assists.
Alberta improves to 15-4 on the season and extends their win streak to seven games, having yet to lose in 2020. The Golden Bears also remain in second place in the conference standings while Calgary’s loss updates their record to 9-8, the Saskatchewan Huskies tying them in sixth place by beating Mount Royal on Friday night.
Hungry to get closer to clinching a playoff spot (the top eight teams qualify for the post-season), the Dinos earned an early 6-2 run but Alberta replied with a 9-2 run to regain the lead on the scoreboard. The two squads then went point-for-point before Canham gave the Bears a small edge with two straight kills off Liam Kuppe’s block attempts, Friesen and rookie middle Billy Johnstone combining on an Alberta block to finish off the set and earn the hosts a 1-0 set lead.
The road team built up another early lead in the second set, doubling up 10-5 on the Golden Bears before the provincial rivals went back and forth, Calgary managing to inch ahead further on the scoreboard.
Down by eight late, Alberta put together an 8-2 run to close the gap, but a Kuppe kill off the block and a McNicol attempt that fell in front of Friesen got the set score to 1-1.
The third set had the Bears get the jump on the opposition, Kennedy fueling the spurt with three kills en route to a 7-1 lead. Four consecutive points, two of them Hobern aces, extended the advantage to 12-4 soon after and though a couple of attacks went awry to close out the set, Canham put one down the middle to finish it off.
A 6-1 Alberta lead opened the fourth and final set, a later 10-2 run pushing the home team to a 19-7 advantage, all but guaranteeing the victory, but it would take 14 more points before Johnstone decided the match off a Dino in the back row.
The two teams meet again on Saturday for the second game of the weekend series, game time starting at approximately 6:30 p.m. MT.